How to Discuss Intimacy Issues with Your Patients
and After Treatment for Major Illnesses Such as Cancer
by Rabbi Edgar Weinsberg, EdD, DD
Healthcare Educator and Intimacy Coach
AASECT-Certified Sexuality Counselor*
*The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists
As most doctors are aware, certain illnesses and treatments can cause serious sexual side effects. Unfortunately, many doctors find it a challenge to discuss intimacy issues with their patients. This is due to at least three factors:
- Doctors or patients may find it uncomfortable to discuss such personal concerns
- Doctors’ heavy caseloads lead to limited time with each patient
- Many doctors have no formal training in relationship issues
The good news is that there are actually some very quick and easy ways to ask patients about their intimacy concerns, without the prospect of mutual embarrassment. Just select 1 or 2 questions to ask your patients that you feel will work best for you:
- “Now that your procedure is behind you, what personal challenges are you most concerned about?
- “Do you have any questions about the impact of your procedure or treatment on your personal life?”
- “You’re on a lot of medicines. What side effects have you experienced at home?”
- “Some patients tell me they have post-op (or post-radiation) sexuality concerns. Do you?”
- “Your surgery/radiation took a lot out of you. How has it affected your intimacy with your wife?”
- Where applicable: “We have a nurse educator to review patients’ sexuality and intimate relationship concerns. Shall we set up an appointment for you?”
- “At times patients ask me for a good intimacy relationship coach. May I suggest one for you?” If so, doctor may hand the patient Rabbi Ed’s brochure on Rekindling Intimacy with contact information.
Doctors may find that referring selected patients to other healthcare professionals will serve their patients well. Several factors should be considered as you refer patients to qualified counselors and coaches:
- Medical remedies for sexual side effects can be very helpful, but many patients also benefit from short- or long-term intimate relationship coaching.
- Doctors can help their patients through an integrative approach that includes referring them to other professionals who specialize in relationship and intimacy issues
- Patients can improve their love life after cancer and other illnesses through counseling or coaching with an intimacy expert, trained to address wellness and relationship issues.
To obtain a printed copy of “Patient Intimacy Tips and Strategies” in the form of an informative four-page brochure to distribute to your patients, MEDICAL DOCTORS are invited to contact Rabbi Dr. Ed Weinsberg (the author of www.LovingAfterCancer.com) at his email or cell phone number in Sarasota, Florida: Rabbi-Ed@LovingAfterCancer.com, or (781) 367-1887. If you send an email, please insert this wording in the subject line: Doctor inquiry re: Patient Intimacy Tips and Strategies, and include your name, degree, postal mailing address, and phone number to receive the brochure.
Click here to learn more Rabbi Ed’s academic background, media appearances, counseling training and experience, and his qualifications as an Intimacy Coach and AASECT-Certified Sexuality Counselor.
Please advise your patients that additional resources for improving their love lives after cancer are available at www.LovingafterCancer.com. While there they can download a free report on “Renewing Intimacy after Illness,” and get an e-book, CD, DVD, or home study video course. They can also inquire about intimacy coaching, which includes applying for a complimentary half hour Intimacy Discovery Session (IDS).
We invite patients to forward this page to their respective physicians who might not have read this page.